The web is amazing. I have found an album of photos taken at Valcartier. This shot is of the artillery arriving at the camp on August 17th, 1914. The weather looks lovely. Unlike today when it is so cold that I have the heat on. In 1914, the men are in their shirt sleeves!
More hot work here as this gun fires what seems to be an entire limber of rounds on the range. I doubt that today, the range would be this close to the tents. The main shell used with the 18 pounder is a HE airbursting shrapnel shell. This kind of shell would be set to burst over an attacking force. The assumption was that war would be in the open.
Here is a short video of modern re-enactors firing the gun as in a "Creeping Barrage". This was a innovation that Alec had a lot to do with. The idea was to roll a curtain of fire just ahead of the advancing infantry. In 1916, at the Somme, this idea was not yet in use. Then the barrage ended. There was a pause and the attacking infantry stood up and walked without support towards the enemy lines. The German maching gun crews had the time to get up from the bunkers and mow the attack down. With the creeping barrage, shells would fall until the first line of the attack reached the trench.
In this video you see the gun layer shift the elevation for each round.
The men in the video look too old and awkward. This was a young man's job and needed extreme athleticism. Not only to man the gun but to manhandle it and to ride all day and dig gun pits.
So here is the real deal. Men stripped to the waist, moving like a machine, in a gun pit.
Things go quiet now in Valcartier. I can find very little evidence of what life was like other than there was not enough food and drink.
But in France and Belgium, things were not quiet. On August 18th the BEF was moving forward to contact. In 2 days a patrol of British cavalry would bump into a German Cavalry patrol just north of Mons. The first shots would be fired and the first man would die. The Great War would begin in earnest for the British Empire.
The great irony is that not 100 feet away from this spot, the last man would die in 1918 and it would be the Canadians that would take Mons on the evening of November 10 1918.
So I Ieave Alec in Valcartier for the next month until the 24th when he and the 5th battery board the Ivernia for England.
In the interim, I will explore what the rest of the family are up to.